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10 dead in shooting near Los Angeles during Lunar New Year festivities

Authorities identify suspected gunman in Lunar New Year mass shooting as 72-year-old man; motive unclear.

Screenshot from a video shows emergency responders at the shooting scene, following a shooting at Monterey Park
Screenshot from a video shows emergency responders following a shooting at Monterey Park, California, early Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023.
TNLA / via Reuters
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MONTEREY PARK, Calif. — Authorities have identified the man responsible for a deadly shooting inside a Monterey Park dance studio as 72-year-old Hemet resident Huu Can Tran.

Tran died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a strip mall parking lot, law enforcement sources said.

“We still are not clear on the motive,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said. “The investigation continues … we want to know how something this awful can happen.”

The manhunt began after the shooter opened fire inside Star Dance Studio on West Garvey Avenue around 10:20 p.m. PST Saturday, killing 10 people and injuring 10 others. It was Lunar New Year’s Eve.

About 20 minutes after the shooting in Monterey Park, Tran walked into Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in nearby Alhambra, officials said. “The suspect walked in there, probably with the intent to kill more people,” Luna said. “But two community members disarmed him, took possession of his weapon, and the suspect ran away.”

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On Sunday morning, police located the white cargo van that was seen leaving the scene of the shooting in Torrance, Luna said. When officers left their patrol vehicle to make contact with the van occupant, they heard one gunshot come from the van.

Several hours later, a SWAT team determined that the suspect had sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound and he was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities determined the man inside the van was Tran, the mass shooting suspect.

During the search, several pieces of evidence were found inside the van linking the suspect to both locations.

“I can confirm that there are no outstanding suspects,” Luna said.

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The weapon taken by community members in Alhambra was a magazine-fed semi automatic assault pistol, with an extended magazine attached, according to authorities. This particular firearm with an extended magazine is illegal to possess in California.

An advisory from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department identified the suspect as an adult Asian man, about 5 feet 10 inches and weighing 150 pounds. An image showed the man in a black leather jacket, beanie and glasses.

“I still have questions in my mind, which is, what was the motive for this shooter? Did he have a mental illness? Was he a domestic violence abuser? How did he get these guns, and was it through legal means? Well, those questions will have to be answered in the future,” said U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, whose district includes Monterey Park, during a Sunday night news conference.

Wong Wei, who lives near the scene of the shooting, had four friends who were at Star Dance Studio on Saturday night, including his sister. He had been invited to go with them but decided not to. Wei said one of his friends was injured in the shooting and was lying on the ground with blood on her face.

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The gunman was holding a “long” gun and appeared to be firing indiscriminately, Wei was told. The “boss” of the studio, referred to as Ma, had also been shot and was on the floor.

“She said, ‘Certainly, he was dead. He wasn’t moving,’ ” Wei said. He wasn’t sure about the condition of his friend Sunday morning or whether she had been hospitalized.

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Police at the scene of a shooting at Monterey Park, California, on Saturday night, Jan. 21, 2023.
Raul Roa / TNS

The shooting occurred near the site where tens of thousands had gathered Saturday for the start of a two-day Lunar New Year festival, one of the largest holiday events in the region.

Earlier in the day, crowds were enjoying skewers and shopping for Chinese food and jewelry. Saturday’s New Year festival hours were scheduled from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The festival had been scheduled to conclude Sunday, but the day’s events were canceled “out of an abundance of caution and in reverence for the victims,” Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said.

“Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones tonight in our neighboring city, Monterey Park, where a mass shooting just occurred,” Los Angeles City Controller Kenneth Mejia, the first Asian American to hold citywide office in L.A., said on Twitter.

Monterey Park, a city of 61,000 in the San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles, is 65% Asian American, 27% Latino and 6% white, according to census data.

One of the anchor suburbs in the San Gabriel Valley, Monterey Park is a hub of Asian American supermarkets and restaurants.

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Emergency services personnel investigate a van Sunday in Torrance, California, where the driver was suspected in a mass shooting on Saturday night in Monterey Park, California.
Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times / TNS

President Joe Biden was briefed on the shooting Sunday morning.

“Jill and I are praying for those killed and injured in last night’s deadly mass shooting in Monterey Park,” Biden said in a tweet.

L.A. Mayor Karen Bass said her “heart goes out to Monterey Park and the families and friends of those lost.”

“The reports coming out of Monterey Park are absolutely devastating,” Bass said. “Families deserve to celebrate the holidays in peace — mass shootings and gun violence are a plague on our communities.”

The shooting is one of the worst in modern Los Angeles County history. One of the last mass shootings of this scale happened Christmas Eve in 2008, when a man dressed as Santa Claus entered a home in Covina, armed with five handguns. Nine people were killed in that rampage, including the gunman’s former wife and her parents. The gunman took his life hours later.

Other recent mass shootings in California include the massacre at a San Ysidro McDonald’s in 1984, where a gunman killed 21 people; and the terrorist attack that resulted in 14 deaths in San Bernardino in 2015.

In 2018, 12 people were killed during a mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks.

Saturday’s shooting comes five days after six people — including a 10-month-old baby, the baby's 16-year-old mother and a grandmother — were killed in the Central Valley farming community of Goshen in Tulare County.

Chu described the Lunar New Year as a time to celebrate with family.

“This tore a hole through all of our hearts,” she said.

©2023 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

©2023 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTSSHOOTINGS
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